Realwear Demonstrates Practical AR In Response to COVID-19

J.C. Kuang, Analyst Augmented Reality, Augmented Reality Intelligence Service, Devices & Technology, Enterprise Transformation, Head-Mounted Displays, Healthcare, Insight Articles, Telecommunications

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Since the beginning of March, AR hardware provider Realwear has mobilized its ruggedized industrial AR solution across a variety of high-need zones impacted by coronavirus-driven screening and quarantine policies.

The spread of COVID-19 has resulted in increasing disruptions to global business continuity. Reduced travel, manufacturing and logistics stoppages, and inability to access on-premises tools and facilities has begun to negatively affect global businesses and cause pessimism in domestic markets. While traditional business technology solutions providers such as Microsoft and Google have looked to telecommuting to help maintain normalcy,  others have pointed to immersive technologies such as virtual and augmented reality as a rapidly deployable stopgap for aiding critical social and medical services during the crisis. 

In total, Realwear has donated 20+ of its flagship head-mounted tablet devices (HMT-1) to medical professionals actively treating quarantine patients within an exclusion zone. Using passthrough augmented reality and video streaming enabled by a modular LTE modem, workers in direct contact with at-risk patients can communicate vast amounts of information to doctors and subject matter experts outside the zone. The HMT’s practical design makes it one of a small handful of commercially available AR devices suitable for usage with protective wear. 

HMT-1 with a FLIR camera. Image courtesy Realwear.

Meanwhile, in other high-need areas in the Middle East, Realwear has provided a modified version of its HMT devices equipped with thermal imaging sensors, as airports in the area have begun to implement temperature screening practices. The use of hands-free AR to conduct temperature screenings improves the logistical efficiency of the screening process, while ensuring that healthcare practitioners and screeners avoid contact with potential vectors, in turn preventing future infections from spreading.

Our Analysis

Apart from allowing critical functions in high-need areas to continue, Realwear’s rapid response showcases the importance of modularity in a serviceable business-oriented AR device. By actively building solutions around specific business problems, devices like the HMT-1 present significantly greater value to a wider client base.

IT professionals face a variety of threats to business continuity every day, with causes ranging from health crises like coronavirus, natural disasters, to geopolitical turbulence. The ability to effectively bridge gaps between frontline workers, supervisors, and subject-matter experts, will prove to be an important driver of the immersive technology market as a whole. AR hardware stakeholders must aggressively adopt similar product design philosophies when building devices marketed to the global enterprise technology market.